NAVCA urges Frances Maude to keep the government’s lottery promise
NAVCA Chief Executive, Kevin Curley, has written to the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude MP, to urge him to deliver on the government's promise to direct more of the Big Lottery Fund's money to charities and community groups. The current consultation on the Big Lottery Fund policy directions, launched by the Cabinet Office, proposes BIG funding should go 'primarily' to the voluntary and community sector. Previously the Government said that BIG lottery funding should exclusively go to the voluntary and community sector. (see notes 1 & 2)
'Primarily' could in the future mean as little as 51%. The Big Lottery Fund distributes £600m a year, and this will increase after the Olympics, so this u-turn could cost local charities and community groups up to £300 million every year.
The policy that Big Lottery funding should go exclusively to the voluntary and community sector was in the Conservative Party 2010 manifesto. It was also the government's stated position as recently as July 2010, when the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Structural Reform Plan said it would "reform the Big Lottery Fund to ensure that only voluntary and community sector projects are funded and to prevent funding of politicised projects", in order to boost the Big Society. (see notes 3) It has also been the public position argued by government Ministers. (see notes 4 & 5)
The government's existing commitment for all Big Lottery Fund money to the voluntary and community sector helped avoid controversy as they reduced the share of good cause money going to BIG from 50% to 40%. The proposal in the consultation calls into question the government's previous position.
Kevin Curley, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said
"A year ago the Government reduced the share of good cause money going to the Big Lottery Fund from 50% to 40% and increased the shares going to support heritage, sport and art. At that time Ministers promised that 100% of Big Lottery Fund spend would be in the voluntary sector. Now they are just saying that primarily the money will go to our sector.
"Public spending cuts especially in local government grants mean that there is more pressure than ever on lottery funding. I am worried that this is a quiet signal that more Big Lottery Fund spending will go to the statutory sector. And I would feel that the whole voluntary sector has been let down if the government reneges upon the reassurances it gave us just 12 months ago.
"Anyone who cares about our sector should respond to this consultation and press the government to make good the commitment they made last year for all Big Lottery Fund money to go to voluntary and community sector organisations".
- Page one of the current Big Lottery Fund policy direction consultation document says "The need to ensure that the Fund achieves the distribution of funds to a reasonably wide spread of projects, primarily those delivered by the voluntary and community sector and social enterprises, including small organisations, those organisations operating at a purely local level, newly constituted organisations, organisations operating as social enterprises and organisations with a base in the United Kingdom and working overseas". http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/big-lottery-fund-proposed.pdf
- "We will restore the national Lottery to its original purpose and, by cutting down on administration costs, make sure more money goes to good causes. the big Lottery fund will focus purely on supporting social action through the voluntary and community sector, instead of ministers' pet projects as at present. Sports, heritage and the arts will each see their original allocations of 20 per cent of good cause money restored." Page 39, Conservative Party manifesto 2010. http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Manifesto.aspx
- Department for Culture, Media and Sport Structural Reform Plan, 15 July 2010 http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/SRP_DCMS_150710.pdf
- John Penrose MP; "The voluntary and community sector is at the very heart of our mission to build a Big Society in which people have a greater role in the things that directly affect them, and gives everyone an opportunity to give something back for the benefit of all. The National Lottery has a fine record of supporting VCS projects, and we are absolutely clear that this work should continue. We will be directing the Big Lottery Fund to make sure that its future funding is focused very clearly on the VCS." 15 Oct 2010 http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/media_releases/7489.aspx
- Jeremy Hunt MP; "The lottery was set up to fund grassroots initiatives, not as a pot of money for ministers to dip into. At times like this it is even more important to the arts, heritage and sports sectors which is why I am wasting no time in making these changes. And, because I want to see a rise in the amount going to voluntary and community organisations, I will make sure that funds to that sector are protected with the Big Lottery fund focusing its support exclusively on that sector." 19 May 2010 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8692539.stm